There’s not much that beats the feeling of sharing the food you eat with your feline companion. It’s an amazing bonding experience and creates some great memories that both you and your cat can share.
There are many foods that you can share with your cat, but today we’ll be talking about tomatoes – the plump and juicy fruit that comes in all shapes, colors and sizes, and is incredibly versatile when it comes to cooking and eating. You can puree your tomatoes and turn them into a sauce, or slice them up to make a sandwich, and even toss the tiny versions (cherry tomatoes) into a salad to add to the intensity of flavors in your green bowl.
In addition to being versatile and tasty, tomatoes have some great health benefits to humans as well. They are rich in vitamin C, which is an essential building block for our bodies to regulate collagen production, eye health, and skin health. Furthermore, tomatoes contain high amounts of lycopene – which is a super compound that protects the skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
So if tomatoes are that good for humans, then it must be good for my cat, too, right? – you may ask. Well, if you’re planning to share your tomatoes with kitty, the answer is: yes, you can! But with many considerations to take note of first – we list all of them below!
Risks of tomatoes for cats
Even though tomatoes contain all of the essential nutrition and vitamins that cats of all ages need to stay healthy (vitamin C, potassium, fiber), the one thing that makes tomatoes potentially bad for cats – even toxic in some cases – is the presence of a compound called solanine.
Solanine, a glycoalkaloid, is known to be toxic to cats, horses, and dogs. And this compound is usually found in unripe tomatoes, which points to the conclusion that you should never feed unripe tomatoes to your cat, unless you want to face an emergency trip to the vet surgery!
When you feed tomatoes to your cat, take care to ensure that there are no stems or leaves present, as consuming these parts of the tomato will cause severe stomach issues, and other cardiovascular or nervous system issues in your cat.
What about tomato sauce?
Tomato sauce is tasty and versatile, and we humans use it in a wide variety of dishes. And since it’s made with ripened tomatoes, there’s no harm in feeding it to cats, right?
Well, when it comes to tomato sauce, ketchup, or even tomato soup, the risk of adverse health effects shifts from potential poisoning, to excessive salt intake. Sure, no unripe tomatoes have ever found themselves in the processing chamber to become the delicious tomato products listed above, but there is a very large amount of salt that is added to make these products as tasty as it is.
And just like in humans, too much salt in your cat’s diet will always be a bad thing. It will lead to increased thirst, excessive urination, and in some extreme cases, sodium ion poisoning and seizures.
Things to know before feeding tomato to your cat
When you’re feeding tomatoes to your cat, it’s always best to only prepare ripe, red tomatoes that are fresh, and to never feed any green parts of the fruit like the leaves and the stem.
Another thing to note is to ensure that you’re only feeding a moderate amount of tomatoes to your cat as a snack. Cats are obligate carnivores – what this means is that every single nutrient that their bodies need to stay healthy can be found in meat, so adding veggies into your kitty’s diet will not really make her any healthier!
Cat nutrition experts have recommended that snacks should comprise no more than 10% to 15% of your cat’s diet – so if your furball decides that she fancies a bit of tomato, always keep an eye on how much you’re feeding her in order to avoid any health complications in the long-term.
If your cat is healthy, with no underlying conditions, it is perfectly safe for your cat to have a morsel or two of the juicy, shiny red fruit as a snack time, or when you’re preparing your classic BLT or homemade meatball marinara. However, if they suffer from any diseases or a sensitive digestive system, it’s best to steer away from tomatoes for the well-being of your cat.
Alternative snacks to tomatoes
When it comes to nutritious snacks for cats, the truth is, tomatoes rank pretty low on the list compared to other fruits and veggies. Here are some alternative snacks to tomatoes that you can feed to your cat without worrying about any high sugar or salt content, or potentially toxic solanine poisoning.
- Celery. Celery is a favorite of many kitties, thanks to the crunchy texture and juicy, fresh taste of this long, green veggie.
- Peas. Peas can be found in many commercial cat and dog foods to boost the vitamin content of the packaged food, and is tasty to boot!
- Pumpkins. The creamy texture and delicious taste of the versatile pumpkin make this fiber-packed fruit a favorite of cats (and humans alike).
- Spinach. Popeye isn’t the only one that loves his spinach – cats do too! This vitamin-rich veggie is great for your cat to boost their vitamin A, C, and K levels naturally.
- Broccoli. Rich in antioxidants and boasting a great chewing texture that satisfies your cat’s urge to chomp on things, broccoli is hands down a feline favorite when it comes to healthy snacks.
So the next time you’re preparing some fresh, ripe, and juicy tomatoes in the kitchen for your meals and you find your kitty looking up at you with those pleading eyes – go ahead and cut up small, bite sized morsels of tomato for them to eat. There’s no harm in doing so, but only if your cat is perfectly healthy and has no underlying conditions.